Latent Tuberculosis Infection (LTBI) Frequently Asked Questions
What is LTBI?
- When people get infected with the TB (Tuberculosis) bacteria, usually their immune systems make the TB bacteria “go to sleep”. This is called a Latent or sleeping TB infection. They don’t have any symptoms of active TB and can’t spread the TB bacteria to anyone else.
- The usual test for latent TB is the TST (Tuberculin Skin Test or Mantoux Test)
Why do I need to be seen? My doctor said my chest X-ray was normal.
- Klinic receives referrals from practitioners when a TST comes back positive or significant, with a reading of 10 mm or more in diameter.
- A chest X-ray helps to rule out active TB illness, and lets us see if there has possibly been active TB illness in the past.
- Your appointment is to complete an assessment and provide you with information specific to you
What is the Risk of the LTBI waking up and making me sick?
- There are several risk factors which we consider when assessing clients in the LTBI program. Generally, the average person with LTBI has around a 5% lifetime chance of the LTBI waking up and becoming active.
- This percentage increases based on certain health conditions, specifically medical conditions which are immune-suppressing (i.e. HIV/AIDS, diabetes or some cancers), or being on immune-suppressing medications.
Is treatment mandatory? What are my treatment options?
- Treatment for LTBI is not mandatory, as it is a preventative treatment.
- It is generally recommended for people who have been a recent contact to active TB, for people who have immune-suppressing health conditions, or for people under the age of 40 with a screening test for work or school.
- There are currently three treatment options available to LTBI clients, with varying treatment schedules:
- Isoniazid (INH)/Rifapentine – taken once a week for twelve weeks, observed by a healthcare provider at Klinic. This is the shortest treatment option.
- Rifampin – taken once daily at home for four months. However, there is currently a shortage of this medication, so it may not be an option.
- Isoniazid (INH) – taken once daily at home for nine months.
- At your appointment, you will discuss with a nurse and a practitioner what treatment option may be best for you. All of these prescriptions are kept here at Klinic, and are provided at no cost to LTBI clients.
What is happening with the LTBI program during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- All of the screening referrals for occupational and educational requirements have been put on hold as non urgent and will be reassessed in the fall.
- More urgent referrals, such as recent contacts, or people with an increased risk of TB reactivation, will be assessed sooner using phone appointments.